The things you should always buy on eBay

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Although I've been an eBayer forever, my year of cutting back and my growing consciousness of how much we collectively waste has made me even more in love with eBay as a source for building my wardrobe and refining my style. 

Many people are scared of eBay and in some ways that benefits me because I have less competition when bidding on things I love. However, it is my mission to convince you that your style will improve if you start shopping on eBay, combined with some thoughtful planning and training yourself to have the restraint to wait for the right piece. Here are six things that I always buy on eBay, and will likely do so forevermore:

#1 That thing you should have bought and can't stop thinking about 

Reverse buyer's regret is a real thing. I'd be lying if I said I haven't spent time pining over things I passed on, then went back to buy and they were already gone. 

For example, these J.Crew cage heels. They are fabulous and I should have bought them years ago but they sold out before I could make up my mind. Since then, I've stalked them on eBay and when they finally came up in my size I  pounced on them. With the added benefit of being a fraction of the price new, and the time-tested confidence that buying them would not be a mistake.

Think about that thing you passed on, got a substitute that was never quite right. I bet you can find it on eBay with a little patience. My favorite time for searching these things are when I am in situations when I need to occupy my mind / kill time, such as Sunday Night Football events.

#2 Classic designer handbags 

I'll never buy these new because eBay has them aplenty, at practical prices by highly rated sellers who offer authenticity guarantees. Doing my research on the best bags and refining it down to the best choice is the hard part. Right now, I'm  good on the handbag front but when I'm ready to make an upgrade eBay will be where I get it.

#3 Anything by your favorite designer or retailer

There are a few designers that I love to source on eBay. When you already know you love a particular brand, it's pretty fail-safe to buy pieces from those brands on eBay because you're already familiar with sizing, fit and quality. Many of my favorite items from Vince, Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno are from eBay.

#4 Foreign brands that are hard to get locally

Transit and COS are two of my favorite European brands that are next to impossible to find in the US, so I hunt them on eBay to cure my need to shop. 

#5 Investment shoes 

You can get better quality and more beautiful shoes for the same price or less than what you're paying for a cheap equivalent on eBay. It's important to try on a few pairs of shoes by a particular brand first to get familiar with your size (especially if it is in IT or EU). I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few sales ladies at Nordstrom who were verrrrrry disappointed to see me walk away from $800 shoes to "think about it" (a.k.a. hunt it on the 'Bay).

#6 Fine jewelry

Just like upping the quality of your bags and shoes, you can have nicer jewelry for what you may be paying retail for cheap costume pieces. Buy confidently from a highly rated seller backed by eBay's customer satisfaction policy (which is similar to Amazon). I've gotten a 14k gold chain and sterling silver garnet earrings for a fraction of what they would cost retail. The garnet earrings were particularly satisfying, because I was almost talked into a pair of overpriced ones while traveling. (I think people are willing to spend a premium when traveling to have the ability to snobbishly declare: "Oh these? I got them in Praaaaague because I am cultured and worldly and fancy.") Rather than spend $275 on a pair to be able to make this statement, I got mine on eBay for like $20. And they remind me of the inspiration I found in Prague, and that I didn't get shaken down by the savvy jeweler next to my Airbnb.

To my fellow eBay lovers: what is missing from this list? 

To my hesitant, future eBay loving readers: what's holding you back?

(Special thanks to Becky Howe for the photo of me staring at my cage heels in wonderment.)
10 comments on "The things you should always buy on eBay"
  1. Hi Coco! My issue with eBay is that I a tiallysee the world the right way when I'm there- which means that I can't shake the fundamental truth that I do not need to buy anything. In other words, 100% of my retail shopping is driven by marketing. I'd love love love to get a designer handbag though. Any sellers you recommend?

    1. Thanks so much for reading! And it is SO hard to resist the marketing - I think Madewell marketers are mind control experts... Anyway, I am on the hunt for a good work bag for the new year and will do a post on some of the best designer brands. Really want something classic and sturdy like Tod's or YSL. Any suggestions for me based on research you've done??

  2. Another great list! I would add "an exact copy of that thing you love and wear all the time and would be heartbroken to part with." The added benefit of purchasing a "backup" is that you have the tag info on hand to insure the second item is the same as the first...and you can continue to wear your favorite thing all the time without having to do laundry as often :)

    1. Erin, thanks so much for reading and for your comment. Genius addition to this list. There are a few items that I would LOVE to have a backup on hand, especially my beloved black coatigan. I added a note on the (iPhone) eBay stalk list to do this!!! Hope all is well with you in Hawaii!

  3. Happy weekend Colleen!

    I love that blue pair shoes you have on, definitely worth the waiting and searching. When it comes to buying on ebay, my hubby really is very good and very patient, he waits and waits and he gets what he wants for a great price. Sometimes I ask him to look for something and then I forget because it's been a while haha...

    I even get my makeup and perfume on ebay, it gives me small pleasure knowing I am not paying the sales tax. My friends often ask me if the perfume, makeup stuff I got on ebay are real. I haven't had problem so far, I go with the sellers with good reputation and rating.

    I recently spent a day cleaning up my closets and I was horrified to see how much stuff I have. Do I really need 30+ handbags and 50+ pairs of boots?? So whenever I want to buy things I remind myself. This is not to say I am not buying at all, but I definitely think twice before I do, and ask myself do I really really want it.

    As always, I enjoy reading your blog and always looking forward to more :)


    1. Hi Echo, thank you for reading and your thoughtful comments as usual! Can your husband teach my husband to do that?!?!? So amazing. I'm with you on the top rated sellers, you can definitely find really trustworthy ones to get even delicate items like makeup. I have an obsession with Jil Sander Pure perfume that I can only find on eBay since it has been discontinued and am in COMPLETE agreement on that topic.

      And, about all your stuff and the test of want vs. need: why is it so hard for us? I have the same problem even after almost a year of dialing back. Recently I have away several bags of clothes and still have more that I don't know what to do with, it's a great reminder to stop, think and plan.

  4. Fabulous shoes and a great article, Colleen!

    I have used eBay to buy many of the things mentioned in the post, but nowadays I am more cautious after being burned a couple of times. In one instance, the seller never even acknowledged my purchase. Luckily, he/she never issued an invoice so that was fine. Another time, I received a half-empty carton box filled with broken and unbroken china cups that were flimsily wrapped in single sheets of newspaper - a feeble attempt that made it virtually impossible for the china to survive the journey across the country even if the box had been carried around like a relic. When I was inspecting the broken pieces I had a strange feeling that old broken cups were thrown together with unbroken pieces - the edges of the broken bits were darker in color, not white as one would expect on recently broken china - in an effort to cash in on a false claim to the post office. When I contacted the seller, she was very insistent that it was I who needed to file the claim even though she was the one insuring the package. The back and forth communication made me suspicious and uneasy, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I (and the post office) was had. Having said that, the majority of my transactions have been smooth and flawless, albeit less friendly and cordial now than in the beginning years of eBay.

    In addition to all the things already listed, I also periodically search eBay for items that would be very hard for me to find otherwise, such as books in my mother tongue (especially vintage/antique ones).

    Thank you for another good read!

    1. Hi Ivanka! Thanks so much for your comment and for reading the post, I really appreciate it. That is HORRIBLE about the China seller, and unfortunate that there are some duds out there that ruin the experience for many people. Your story reminded me of a time that I got a completely WRONG item shipped to me, instead of the one I ordered. But, agree that the risk is worth the reward of finding those hard-to-source pieces. I bet it is such a treat to find Czech books and have them shipped right to your door. Which reminds me of the cool vintage bookstores I found in Prague... I bet you miss it so much! P.S. Speaking of vintage, have you made a stop at Dandelion yet to see if it's still good??

  5. Hi colleen,

    I'm slowly rereading all your blog posts as tomorrow I start my journey of a 6 month no buy alike to you. It's taken me a while to start telling people as I was so scared I won't make it for a long time but now I shall embark on the journey.
    Anyway back on track, could you share if not publicly but privately some of your more fruitful sellers. As I've not used the "bay" in such a long time I'm quite cautious to start and sadly opp shopping in Australia for two bubbas under two is quite difficult so I assume the bay and my local consignment store will be my most used sources.
    Thanks again for the post,

    1. Naomi, thanks so much for reading and for your comment. That is so exciting that you're about to embark on your own no new things challenge. I highly recommend taking a few afternoons to do some serious outfit planning on your bed with your camera phone. It really helped me to take full advantage of my closet and it's amazing what you can do with a little restraint and creativity. I bet you will be so glad you took the plunge!

      As far as eBay sellers go, I've shopped with Shop Linda's Stuff for YEARS and have had only great experiences (here's her link:*s***stuff?_trksid=p2053788.m1543.l2754 ). However, I also shop from many sellers but stick to those who have had many interactions on eBay (look for the # next to their name or handle - go with sellers with interactions in the hundreds with nearly all positive feedback ratings).

      Best of luck, and please keep me posted on how it goes and if there is anything I can do to help!